The investigation into possible misconduct involving the UC Davis baseball program has concluded. The result of that investigation, involving interviews with eight university employees and 13 current or former players, has generated a report that found evidence of an annual initiation tradition where new players were hazed via a series of challenges involving dangerously excessive drinking and other inappropriate activities, as well as a team culture of alcohol use and pressure to use alcohol. The last reported initiation activities occurred during the 2019-20 academic year, and as such, the majority of the current team did not participate in them.
It also concluded that Head Baseball Coach Matt Vaughn failed to take appropriate steps to address a concern brought to his attention about possible hazing involving the baseball team in 2018. Vaughn has resigned effective today (Nov. 12). The current assistant coaching staff will remain in place on an interim basis, and the athletics department will be launching a national search for a new head baseball coach.
As a consequence of the findings of the investigation, Intercollegiate Athletics (ICA) is taking the following actions with the baseball team:
- Unsupervised team activities on and off-campus are prohibited for the remainder of the 2021-22 baseball season.
- A sport administrator will travel with the baseball team for the remainder of 2021-22 season.
- There will be a reduction in the non-conference baseball game schedule for the 2021-22 season.
To ensure and enhance the current student-athlete education program and resources, ICA will be doing the following:
- In coordination with Student Affairs, ICA has implemented a new training series for all student-athletes to build awareness of healthy choices around risky social behaviors and health and well-being resources. This will enhance the information currently provided at the annual compliance meeting for all student-athletes, which provides a review of the student-athlete handbook and student conduct, including hazing and alcohol policies.
- ICA will be partnering with a third-party reporting group, RealResponse, that will provide a new anonymous reporting tool for student-athletes as an additional channel for students to seek help or share concerns.
In addition, in a continuing effort to build awareness about hazing and its impacts, the university is in the process of developing an anti-hazing campaign for all students:
- In April 2020, the vice chancellor for Student Affairs charged a Hazing Prevention Task Force to bring together students, administrators, coaches, faculty and staff from across campus in areas where hazing has been or has the potential to be present. In April 2021, they finalized a comprehensive report that included hazing-prevention recommendations for campus. In response to the recommendations, efforts have begun to create an anti-hazing education campaign to all students and evaluate and update the hazing training curriculum that is delivered to various student groups.
The university also offers the following campus resources for students:
- Mental health resources
- Alcohol/substance abuse recovery resources
- Hazing can be reported to the Office of Student Support and Judicial Affairs at 530-752-1128 or email@example.com
- Sexual assault and sexual harassment confidential and nonconfidential resources: Any student who has experienced sexual harassment or sexual assault can report it by contacting the Harassment and Discrimination Assistance and Prevention Program (HDAPP) at 530-747-3864.
Whistleblower report information: Employees, students and others may report suspected improper governmental activities either orally or in writing to the UC Davis Locally Designated Official (LDO).
Statement from UC Davis Chancellor Gary S. May
I want to thank the investigators for their focused approach and the witnesses for their cooperation, even while under heightened media scrutiny. As I have often stated, the health and well-being of our students is our top priority. When allegations of misconduct of any kind are reported, we won’t hesitate to take appropriate action to determine the facts. Let me reiterate, as I stated during the summer, that UC Davis has zero tolerance for hazing.
Our student-athletes deserve to know we will do all that we can to help them thrive in the classroom and on the field. I’m encouraged to see new training opportunities and other programs being introduced by Student Affairs and Athletics, including “Healthy Living at UC Davis.”
We will continue to make sure our students understand they’re part of a university environment that fosters success. That is paramount for the integrity of a top university like ours.
I ask the broad UC Davis community to join me in wishing our baseball program well as they return to competition.
Statement from Rocko DeLuca, Director of Athletics
Our athletics programs have long been a point of pride for all Aggies. Our student-athletes excel in the classroom and on the field, and participate in innovative career programs such as Aggie EVO that have inspired similar programs across campus to benefit all students.
Creating a welcoming and healthy environment for all of our students requires that we provide a safe space for them to come forward and speak confidentially about their concerns. We are deeply saddened that students who have been a part of the baseball team experienced events that negatively impacted their health and well-being. We appreciate those who reported their concerns as well as those who participated in the investigation. Their actions will help the baseball team create a healthy, supportive culture.
We know there will be a period of transition for our baseball team. We are here to support the program and work toward rebuilding a healthy and positive culture among the team members, including our new athletes who now make up the majority of the team. We want every student-athlete to have an experience that aligns with the values of our athletic program, such as respect, inclusion and excellence, as well as the UC Davis Principles of Community.
- Melissa Blouin, News and Media Relations, 530-564-2698 (cell), firstname.lastname@example.org
- Danielle Shank, Intercollegiate Athletics, 858-603-2188 (cell), email@example.com